Peel and de-vein the shrimp, and set aside, covered in the refrigerator. Rinse the shrimp shells and heads, place in a non-reactive stock pot along with 2 quarts of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 - 45 minutes to make a stock. Strain, discard the shells and heads and set the stock aside. Meanwhile, wash the crabs well under running water, place in a non-reactive pot with 1 quart of water, bring to a boil and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes. Strain, reserving stock and crabs. When the crabs are cool enough to handle, snap both claws off then break the body in half. Set aside.
In a heavy bottomed skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil , add the okra and saute over medium high heat for about 10 - 15 minutes or until all the "ropiness" is gone. This step may take a little longer if fresh okra is used. Frozen vegetables are usually plunged into boiling water and blanched before freezing, so they are partially cooked.
Place the _ cup oil in a large (8 quart) heavy bottomed non-reactive Dutch oven type pot. Add the flour and, over a medium high fire, make a dark brown roux as described on page10. As soon as the proper color is achieved, add the onions, bell pepper, celery and garlic and saute, stirring occasionally until tender. During this process, allow the vegetables to stick to the bottom of the pan a bit, then scrape the bottom with a metal spoon or spatula. This allows some of the natural sugars in the onions to caramelize, rendering great depth of flavor.
When the seasoning vegetables are tender add the tomatoes, bay leaves and the three peppers and a little salt. Cook for about 10 minutes, repeating the stick and scrape process with the tomatoes. Add the sauteed okra and cook for 10 more minutes.
Add the crab stock and half of the shrimp stock to the pot. Stirring constantly, bring the pot to a boil. Lower the heat a bit, partially cover and simmer for thirty minutes, stirring occasionally. If the gumbo appears too thick, add more stock to adjust. Add salt to taste and adjust the pepper if desired. Add the broken crabs and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the peeled shrimp, return to a boil and simmer until the shrimp are firm and pink, about 5 minutes. Remove the pot from heat.
As is the case with most gumbos, this dish is best prepared either early in the day it is to be served, or even the day before, thereby allowing time for the flavors to marry. When reheating, stir often and be careful to avoid overcooking the shrimp.
Serve in large bowls over steamed rice. This recipe will yield about six entrees or ten to twelve appetizers.
Place the sugar in a large, heavy pot and set it over a medium heat. Stirring often, slowly let the sugar melt and caramelize until dark brown, being careful not to let it burn. Add 2 cups of dark corn syrup. Add 1 cup of water along with the coffee and butter. Bring the pot to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and allow it to cool to room temperature. If the sauce is too thick, add a little water.
Add the roasted pecans shortly before serving so they will maintain their crispness. Without the pecans added, the sauce will keep for several weeks in a covered container. If you choose to refrigerate it, which is unnecessary, be sure to let it get back to room temperature before serving.
Combine all ingredients in a stainless steel, glass or crockery bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. This recipe makes about 2 cups, or enough for 1 pound of boiled peeled shrimp or crawfish tails.
To serve mix the shrimp or crawfish with the sauce and divide among six or eight chilled plates that have been lined with chopped lettuce. Garnish with lemon wedges.
This sauce is also wonderful as a dip for raw or lightly steamed vegetables.
Spread 1 pound of the diced tomatoes on a small roasting pan and smoke for 20 minutes in a backyard smoker or covered barbecue grill according to the manufacturer's directions. Set aside.
In a large saucepan set over a medium heat, saute the chopped onion in the olive oil until tender. Add the mushrooms, garlic, salt, pepper and oregano and cook for 1 minute. Add the smoked tomatoes, the other pound of diced tomatoes and bring pot to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook for about 5 minutes, until the shrimp are just done. Stir in the basil and turn off the heat.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain well and toss the sauce in a large preheated bowl. Serve immediately.